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McIlroy, Donald share lead after Round 3 in Dubai

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McIlroy, Donald share lead after Round 3 in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Rory McIlroy sank a short birdie putt on the 18th hole Saturday to remain tied with Luke Donald as the world's two top-ranked golfers pulled three shots clear of a star-studded field after the third round of the Dubai World Championship.

The top-ranked McIlroy, who has already wrapped up the European and PGA Tour money titles, struggled early when he bogeyed the first hole and missed several makeable birdie putts. But he improved on the back nine, sinking a 30-foot eagle putt on 14 to go with three birdies for a 6-under 66.

Donald also had a 66 and is tied with McIlory with a 17-under total of 199.

``I've done a majority of my scoring this week on the back nine and that's the way it went today,'' McIlroy said. ``Took me a few holes to adjust. But once I got comfortable, I started to hit some good shots and give myself opportunities for birdies.''

Donald had his third consecutive bogey-free round and has now gone 100 holes at the Dubai tournament without one. If he wins Sunday without carding a bogey, he will match the feat of Sweden's Jesper Parnevik, who won the 1995 Scandinavian Masters without dropping a shot.

``I was, again, just trying to play solid golf, minimize mistakes,'' said Donald, who won in Japan last week to overtake Tiger Woods for the No. 2 spot in the rankings. ``I guess it's a testament to how I play the game. I kind of keep the ball in front of me and, when I get in trouble, I've got a good short game to bail myself out.''

South Africans Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Charl Schwartzel (67) are three shots back, while compatriot Branden Grace and Joostis Luiten of France are a further two shots behind. Seven others are six shots off the pace, including Scotsman Marc Warren, who started the day tied with McIlroy and Donald but had three bogeys on his first 12 holes to fall out of contention.

The round of the day, however, went to Jeev Milkha Singh. Still recovering from a hand injury and worried about his mother, who was hospitalized after a fall, the Indian golfer shot a 64 to match the course record and move into a tie for 25th. He strung together three consecutive birdies on the front nine and four straight after the turn in a round that included a total of nine birdies to go with a lone bogey on the 10th.

``I dedicate this round to my mother,'' Singh said. ``She was in the ICU yesterday. I learned about it just before I teed off.''

Though McIlroy and Donald didn't play together, it seemed the world's top golfers were having a duel of sorts all day.

Donald struck first, sinking two birdie putts on the first three holes, while McIlroy hit his opening drive into a bunker and settled for a bogey. McIlroy pulled a shot back with a birdie on No. 3 and then sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole before Donald sank birdies on 7 and 9 to extend his lead.

But just when it seemed Donald might pull away, McIlroy made consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th. With Donald extending his lead by two with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 14, McIlroy needed something special to keep pace.

On the par-5 14th, McIlroy hit what he called a ``great drive'' followed by a 4-iron that landed in the middle of the green. He curled the 30-foot putt to draw even with Donald.

``I was just trying to hit it on the green somewhere and give myself at least a chance for eagle and probably a two-putt birdie,'' McIlroy said. ``But I got up there and it was 25, 30 feet away and I guess it was a downhill putt that I was just trying to get close. It was on a good line and it was a good speed and it was a bonus that it went in. Obviously, it got me tied, which was nice.''

Donald and McIlroy were not alone at the top all day. Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, made a run midway through his round with four birdies over five holes before cooling off and three-putting for par on the 18th.

Oosthuizen's playing partner, 2011 Masters champion Schwartzel, also started strong with two birdies on the first three holes and had the shot of the day when his second on the par-5 7th almost went in. But then he fell back with a bogey on 8 and 10 and missed a birdie putt on 18.

``Nearly albatross there, wasn't it?'' Schwartzel said. ``If there was ever going to be a flag that you've got a good chance to eagle, it was going to be the 7th today. Great tee shot, hit a 4-iron in there and caught that bowl and came funneling down. From where I could see it, it must have been really close to going in.''

Donald and McIlroy both birdied the 18th to set up a season-ending duel between No. 1 and No. 2 - something not seen since last year when Donald won the BMW PGA Championship in a playoff with Lee Westwood to replace him at the top.

Though the Northern Irishman has the top ranking locked up, a victory on Sunday would affirm his claim as the world's best golfer heading into 2013.

``It's very important no matter what happens tomorrow,'' McIlroy said. ``I guess I'm No. 1 going into next year. But it will be nice to put an exclamation mark on, if you want.''

For Donald, a victory would serve as a revenge of sorts. McIlroy took the No. 1 ranking from him earlier this year and then went out and matched the Englishman's feat of winning both tour money titles in 2011. The two haven't played in a final round together since 2007 and that was when Donald was ranked 17th and McIlroy 233rd.

``In terms of my own confidence, it would be a great way to finish off the year,'' Donald said. ``Any time you're playing against the best player in the world, if you can go head-to-head and come out on top, yeah you're going to come away feeling good about things.''

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

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USA Today

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.

 

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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